Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 10.01.2014 evening, Sofia)
(continues from the previous Monday)
The ninth principle in this set is: “One should carefully avoid the various offences in chanting the holy name of the Lord or in worshiping the deity in the temple.” 1] There are many offences; 33 basic mistakes during worship; shall I tell you a few? One offence to be avoided in temple worship is: “don’t arrive on a palanquin into the temple room”. So, some slaves carry you on a nice palanquin into the temple – don’t do that. Easy, we can acomplish that, nice! Second offence to avoid: “don’t sit on top of the altar”. Well, it sounds a little weird, no doubt. But you know, once we had a new friend, first visiting the ashram in Nanda Falva. We were singing standing and after the arati everybody took place to listen to the lecture. We had a vyasasan for Gurudev, permanently staying there, even if Gurudev was not present. So our friend immediately thought: ‘Ah, it’s a nice place’ and took it. In a very humble way we tried to tell him: “Please, rather you sit here.” But that shows only that the soul has the tendency immediately to understand which the best point of the temple is. 
What to speak of human beings, once we had a rabbit. She was a part of the ashram. White, beautiful white rabbit. She was very happy to live with the devotees and she also had some very nice pastimes. Her favorite place in the temple room was the vyasasan of Gurudev, of course! There was only one more precious place for her – this was the bookstand (поставката за книги), on the Bhagavatam. It was very funny! So, after the evening program we had our supper in the temple. The plates were distributed, 5-10 plates, the devotees were sitting there and some little prasadam is placed on each plate. Our friend was visiting each plate and would take a little from each. So the respect of prasadam, this prasad principle she knew it very well. And you know, when devotees come together in a very relaxed mood after their evening worship and after their evening prasadam, first you sit in front of your plate, then you start to feel more relaxed. After half an hour talking and discussing very important points of spiritual life, you half-lie on the floor. And then our friend came with a very special service to the devotees. She approached close and started to bite the earlobes of a devotee. So, even the animals can choose the best place inside the temple room – the vyasasan.
And there are many other details, of course: behave like this, don’t do like that during worship or while chanting the holy names. The ten offences should be avoided as much as possible, like: not paying full attention, or blasphemy to the holy name, or disrespect to the instruction of the spiritual master – there are many different offences to be avoided. But if we try sincerely to cultivate this devotional life, there is less chance to commit offences. Of course, following the footsteps and the good example of our seniors – again this helps us to avoid mistakes. 
While the tenth principle here is: “One should be very intolerant (не трябва да търпи да слуша) towards the blasphemy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, or His devotees.” So, the general rule is that we should be very tolerant; one thing you can reject and this is offences against your beloved God and your beloved vaishnavas. 
So far we have heard twenty important principles. “Without following the above-mentioned last ten principles, one cannot properly elevate himself to the platform of sadhana-bhakti or devotional service in practice. Altogether Shrila Rupa Goswami mentions twenty items and all of them are very important. Out of the twenty, the first three – namely accepting the shelter of a bona fide spiritual master, taking initiation from him and serving him with respect and reverence – are the most important.”
So, the second ten principles that were mentioned: Give up the company of non-devotees; instruct a person, who is inquisitive; don’t be very enthusiastic about constructing costly temples and monasteries; don’t read many books or make a profession from spiritual lectures; don’t be neglectful (небрежни) in ordinary dealings; be balanced in loss and gain; respect the demigods; don’t give troubles to others; avoid the offences; but don’t tolerate blasphemy. Reasonable advice, right? As it is said, if we follow this we can come to the level of sadhana-bhakti. Sadhana-bhakti has two levels: vaidhi and raganuga. Vaidhi means ‘according to vidhi’; vidhi is the rules and regulations, prescriptions. While raganuga means: anuga – ‘to follow’, to follow someone who has raga, who has attachment to Krishna. So, in vaidhi-sadhana there are many rules; in raganuga-sadhana there is one rule – follow. And the other type, the ripe type, the higher type of bhakti practices is ragatmika-bhakti – when the nature of our practice is the free flow of divine attachment. Vaidhi, raganuga and ragatmika. By following these principles we can come to the elementary stages of the bhakti process and we can start our spiritual elevation proper. 
1.  Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 6

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